Although my first cruise was on Holland America Line (HAL), I soon traveled on Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) and fell in love. HAL is a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation, but it is completely different from the Carnival Cruise Line ships. Before Carnival Corporation bought HAL, it was a Dutch shipping, passenger, and cargo line. As a result, a lot of the ships still have a Dutch feel to them and therefore they carry many international travelers. On the other hand, CCL ships are fun! Known as the party ships, but marketed as The Fun Ships, the line has a fun party atmosphere for adults and children.
It was not until I traveled on the Carnival Triumph, when I was 9 years old, that I realized how important it is to meet people while on board. Meeting fellow passengers allows travelers to grow closer and feel like a large family. On the Triumph, I met two friends and began going to the kids’ club. While all cruise ships have a diverse group of passengers, Carnival allowed children to feel included. I felt as though HAL was strictly for adults, particularly those that were older. I remember sitting at a table at dinner on the HAL ship with my parents, the cruise ship doctor, a widow, and an old man from South Africa with an accent named Bob. My parents were okay with having a randomized table, but having an elementary school child with all of these people who wanted to have 4+ courses and talk about the economy was not ideal. It’s sad, but that is about all I remember from my trips on HAL.
While I was older when I traveled on CCL, the amount of detail that I can remember from these trips is amazing. More importantly, my strong desire to go on another cruise on Carnival proved to my parents that it was a good choice. I have been infatuated with cruising ever since and have traveled on over ten CCL sailings.
I believe that my favoritism toward Carnival is because of its friendly staff, all-ages activities, and fun nature. While many families favor Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL), I have always enjoyed Carnival more. RCCL offers many different activities like rock climbing, ice skating, and surf simulators, but they do not know how to make the passengers bond as a family. The cruise line does not provide hosted activities that really engage passengers. To me, RCCL means a relaxing vacation with my family. On the contrary, Carnival is the fun family vacation that allows me to meet new people while hanging out with my family.
For many years, I have ecstatically said that Carnival Cruise Line is my favorite and that its the only way to cruise. I am always liking their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter posts. As I have grown up, I have also read John Heald’s blog religiously. John Heald is the Senior Cruise Director and Brand Ambassador for CCL. Starting as a waiter, he is shocked by how far he has come and how many people actually care about what he has to say. In the blog, he is very honest and gives great accounts of what happens behind crew doors. Before the Carnival Vista began sailing, he even gave readers a sneak peak of the ship.
For the past few years I have been tracking everything about the Carnival Vista. This summer I decided to celebrate my graduation from college by taking a cruise; I considered going to Europe to sail on the Vista, but decided that the plane ticket was just too expensive. I ended up trying something new, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL). I thought that it would be a nice cruise, similar to Royal Caribbean, but definitely not as great as Carnival. Boy, was I wrong! I loved NCL and I hope to travel on their ships again soon.
I enjoyed NCL a lot, but I am still 100% a huge fan of CCL. I would gladly travel on their ships and will in the future. At this point, I feel as though Carnival is a part of my identity, but I will admit that it was nice to try something different. To my surprise, the cruise lines were not that much different from each other.
My advice to you is that cruise line stereotypes are not always accurate. Try as many cruise lines as you can, but never forget the ones that you really love. Carnival Cruise Line will always be the line that made me fall in love with cruising. It is the line that people say is cheap and disgusting, but you should not trust them. Only you can find the magic when you sail on them for yourself.